In the century since the dawn of the mass-market car, more than 100,000 gas stations have popped up along the country’s 4 million miles of roads and highways–and a stop to refuel became a crucial part of the quintessential U.S. road trip.
But the heyday of the gas station as a place to refuel is probably drawing to a close. Analysts project that sales of electric vehicles will outnumber sales of gas-powered cars by midcentury. That means a wholesale rethinking of the infrastructure that consumers use to charge their batteries
Powering that electric-car fleet will require a dramatic increase in public charging stations from the 16,000 active today–and fast. How many will be needed? That’s a bit unclear, but a good estimate from the Department of Energy (DOE) is four plugs for every 100 plug-in electric vehicles. The number of electric vehicles sold annually–including both plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars–is expected to grow from around 160,000 in 2016 to 1.5 million by 2030, assuming current federal tax incentives remain in place, according to the Energy Information Administration.